05 December 2015

Oh we got trouble!

"Trouble, oh we got trouble,
Right here in River City!
With a capital "T"
That rhymes with "P"
And that stands for Pool!"

In Robert Meredith Willson's "The Music Man", "T" meant "Trouble" and "T" rhymes with "P" that stands for "Pool". In my generation "P" stood for "Pinball" and caused the same trouble, "young men (and women) fritterin' away their noontime, suppertime, choretime too! Boo hoo!

This generation has a their own supposedly harmless vice to deal with and it starts with "V" which sill rhymes with "T" and also means trouble. A friend of mine knows a young man, actually several young men who have acquired both the knack and the compulsion to play Video games to the exclusion of some of their responsibilities and their studies and asked me if I had any suggestions. Since my friend had already tried the direct approach I decided that some stealth might work and so I disguised my approach by making a reference and comparison with video games themselves. Here is what I suggest:

Dear young man or young lady,

Let’s play a video game in our head. In this game there is a world full of people and eighty percent of them are Zombies. They function only by the necessities of pure basic instincts and also through habits formed by taking the bait that is offered to them by the Manipulators of the world. These Manipulators of the world consist of another fifteen percent of the world population and their well-being depends upon their ability to enslave the Zombies and use them to gain wealth, power and prestige over each other individually as well as all the other non-Zombies of the world. There remains another five percent of the population who are non-Zombies and non-Manipulators, and although they are not actual enemies of the Manipulators, they are a constant headache because the five percent are humble and patient Christian humanist intellectuals (like Pope Francis) who are clothed in virtue to the extent that even if “sticks and stones break their bones, they will just keep on going and going, slowly teaching the Zombies how to think for themselves.

Oh, the Manipulators aren’t stupid, they can think for themselves, but it is in the form of vice, not virtue, in what we call “street smarts” or negative wit from which comes their manipulative powers. The difference between a Zombie and a non-Zombie is the difference between “0” and “1”, or in other words, a decision.  With instinct and habit (and video games) there is no decision. Everything is pure reflex action and it is strengthened by adding muscle memory through mindless repetition. A decision, however, requires thinking. So then why do people do things only by reflex or habit? They do it for the same reason that they eat potato chips. They just can’t stop! Each time they shoot the other guy or blow up something or chop off the monster’s head they get a little shot of a chemical called L-Dopa (L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine) in their brain’s pleasure center and this is an addictive drug. Believe me, the devil knows all about it.

And so in the end, who do you think is going to win the game? Will the Zombies overwhelm the Manipulators? I doubt it. Will the Manipulators once and for all get rid of the Christian Humanists? I don’t know but I’d be willing to bet that God is not about to abandon His friends. Doing what God would like us to do is the key to a joyous and triumphant eternal life. The question boils down to what a person wants to be in life, a Zombie, a Manipulator, or a child of God who is truly free from anxiety and fear, and does not need material things to keep them “doped up”.

So, where does that leave us? Hopefully it leaves us walking with Jesus on the path to eternal life. Whenever we make a decision to do something virtuous we take a step toward God. Whenever we choose a vice we turn our back on God and go in the opposite direction. Be careful which direction you are headed in when the music stops. You can always choose your direction. That is what free will is all about. God speaks to us though our conscience. We should always make it a a point to decide what we want to do whenever possible and then listen. Do not do anything, either alone or with others, that is opposed to your conscience. Good luck and God bless you!

Sincerely and Amen,

Your friend.


Joan said...

SUCH a good post. Thank You.

Bob Mrotek said...

Gracias Joan!

norm said...

On the percentage angle: We have had a small number of truly holy people over recorded history. What makes our current situation interesting is the shear number of souls living on earth at this time; there has to be a good many holy people living in this vast pile of humanity just by the numbers. You mention the current Pope, he could very well be one of that select number. Time will tell.

The bad actors get the press but they are not shaping humanity's path. An example: Free trade, it has decimated manufacturing jobs in Ohio, our standard of living has declined but we are not starving. The flip side is that people in the third world are making those things that Ohio people made in the past and are now eating regular. The regular people in Ohio would never have stood for the result had they known beforehand the decline in their living standard but there were people in power who kind of knew that if we did not come up with some way to let the vast numbers of people in the third world eat, we all would be in a world of hurt over the long term. The zero sum game is a fallacy, taking a little out of one column can and does make a big difference in the other column. The holy people are small in number and they tend to not get the press, a behind the curtain kind of thing but they are there and they are doing heavy lifting for the rest of us. I would not be too concerned with vice, in the scope of things, it really is not much of a player.

Have a nice Christmas Bob, I think you are one of the good guys, a gift to us all , who just keeps on giving. Nice essay today.

Bob Mrotek said...

Thanks, Norm, I think that you are one of the good guys too. Neither the Manipulators nor the Zombies will win in the end because of people like you. As for the percentages, well, after all it is an imaginary video game. Besides, wnen it comes to electronic calculators I am all thumbs. Have a wonderful Christmas season yourself, Norm, and build up your strenght and enthusiasm. I have a feeling that you might need it when we climb the hill of January :)

Joan said...

And thank you for reminding us of all the holy people walking among us!
A good reminder indeed.

norm said...

We start January with a big sledding party (if there is snow) , a giant bonfire from the orchard trimmings and blowdowns. A few weeks later the skating starts, smaller groups and smaller fires but still outside and exercise. We are staying home this year, too many family needs to go off to Latin America. To be needed is a blessing of the best kind. Sledding to the light of a full moon is not to shabby as well.

Bob Mrotek said...

Norm, the hill of January that I was referring to is "la cuesta de enero", the time when the people, having spent their money on Christmas, are facing a lean month of tough sledding...like pulling a loaded sleigh uphill :)

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.